Book Review: The Winter We Met

Published October 8th 2020

Author: Samantha Tonge

When charming, mysterious Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen!

But time is running out with the closure looming and Jess becomes increasingly drawn to enigmatic Nik who joins forces with her and best friend Oliver to realise those plans.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?

The Winter We Met is a very sweet heart-warming story that is filled with all the “holiday-ness” of the season. The story begins on an airplane from Germany to London where a British toy store worker ends up sitting next to an Australian man from a toymaker family. The two hit it off and end up mingling together with an excellent cast of secondary characters. While this story does involve romance, there is the larger theme of love for yourself, friends, family, and community.  There are some fun Christmas traditions and an entertaining “It’s a Wonderful Life”-themed party that all nicely weave into the story.

Toyshop manager, 29-years-old Jess Jagger, just completed a toy fair in Germany where she meets Australian Nik Talvi on the flight home. As his family owns a toy-making company and he is interested in spending more time with Jess, the two end up returning to Jess’s hometown and looking at her toy shop, Under the Tree. During a conversation between Nik and Jess, she receives a call from her grandmother, Alice, who informs her that her care home, Willow Court, will be closing in a few weeks.  When the two of them visit Willow Creek, Nik decides to throw a party as a nice farewell for the residents. Also involved are Jess’s flatmate and best friend, Oliver, who works at a cocktail bar. Oliver is suspicious of Nik but also does not want to mess up his relationship with Jess, which gives a nice bit of tension to the story. Although the story surrounds Jess and Nik, the novel explores Oliver and the residents and staff of Willow Court.

As Nik is a new addition to the community, it was interesting to read about the mystery surrounding his appearance. He was very sweet and I loved the friendship that forms between him and Jess, but just like Oliver, as a reader, you begin to question if he is as perfect as he appears. I liked that this element was added to the story and it was not a straightforward couple meeting on a plane and just having an instant happily ever after. In this slow-burn story, there are many realistic aspects as there is a build-up to the ending and the bigger picture is explored, especially with the Willow Court people, which added to the realism to the story. It was nice that the story did not “forget” about the side characters in favor of a “blind” focus on the main couple.

Overall, this was a delightful festive read. There are heart-warming and heart-breaking elements all weaved together to keep the reader hooked from start to finish. Jess and her relationship with her grandmother were sweet and entertaining. Not only is there a lot of love shared between them, but they also had great banter. While some pieces of this story seem far-fetched to be fully realistic, it does have a nice balance of realism and fiction. From the wintery cover, complete with a dog, to the wonderful characters to the actual story, this novel was perfect for getting into the holiday spirit. As this is my first novel by this author, I look forward to reading more of her works in the future.  

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